A new detail has been released in the murder case of former presidential adviser, defense department consultant and Vietnam veteran John Wheeler.
Investigators say that Wheeler's iPhone was found near the scene of a smoke bomb attack on a neighbor's unfinished home days before Wheeler's body was discovered at a Wilmington landfill, according to Delaware Online.
Wheeler and his wife were involved in a court dispute with the owners of the house where the smoke bombs were tossed. They were reportedly against its construction because it blocked their view of the Delaware River.
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Delaware Online reports that a neighbor saw a man in a hooded sweatshirt tossing flaming devices at the home in an attempt to smoke out rodents onto the floorboards. Little damage was done however, aside from the floorboards being scorched.
The neighbor reportedly contacted the authorities. Investigators say they found Wheeler's phone on the ground when they arrived at the scene though they won't say where exactly it was discovered.
The phone was given to Newark Police who are the lead investigators in the case.
Delaware Online says that investigators planned to speak to Wheeler before his death though they're not sure if he had anything to do with the smoke bombing.
The neighbor who witnessed the smoke bomb attack reportedly believes that Wheeler was responsible however, claiming that the bomb-thrower was wearing a dark hooded sweatshirt that matches descriptions by witnesses who saw Wheeler in Wilmington two days later on Dec. 30.
The medical examiner declared that Wheeler was assaulted and died from blunt force trauma.
His body was found in a Wilmington landfill on Friday, Dec. 31.
A surveillance video showed a disoriented Wheeler roaming around the parking garage of the New Castle County Courthouse two days before his death.
Witnesses say that they thought he was homeless when they saw him.
Police still don’t know where Wheeler was killed and why.
Police say that on Tuesday, Dec. 28, Wheeler was supposed to arrive in Wilmington via train. They’re unsure where he went or what he did.
On Wednesday, Dec. 29, around 6 p.m., Wheeler was seen at a New Castle County Happy Harry’s drug store reportedly asking a pharmacist there for a ride to Wilmington.
Police then say that about 40 minutes later with one shoe in his hand and no coat, Wheeler was seen roaming around the Courthouse parking garage while noticeably disoriented, looking for his car.
“I asked him where his ticket was and he told me that his ticket was still inside his briefcase,” said Goldsborough. “I asked him where his briefcase was and he said it was stolen. That’s all he could tell me.”
Police are still uncertain where Wheeler went once he left the parking garage. He was next seen on Thursday, Dec. 30 at 3:30 p.m. near 10th and Orange Streets in Wilmington.
He was reportedly wearing different clothes -- a dark hooded sweatshirt and dark pants -- and was seen in the area near the Hotel Du Pont.
He was also approached by several individuals inside the Nemours Building on 10th and Orange and offered assistance. He reportedly declined however.
He was captured on surveillance video inside the building as late as 8:30 p.m. that day.
Police say he was not seen again after that and they don’t know when he left the building.
His body was discovered less than twelve hours later in a Wilmington landfill.
Police also say that Wheeler’s car was parked in an Amtrak parking garage since Dec. 13. They don’t think it moved since he parked it there that day though it wasn’t unusual for him to do this when he traveled.
The Newark Police Department is asking anyone with information regarding Wheeler’s whereabouts after 8:30 p.m. on Dec. 30 to contact Detective Nicholas Sansome at 302-366-7110 ext. 135.
A $25,000 reward is being offered by Wheeler's family.
You can also provide information anonymously to Crime Stoppers at 1-800-TIP-3333 where a reward may be available.
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